Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 8:04 am
Credit National Park Service
Pulling out a porcupine quill is painful and slow, as many a dog discovers to its dismay after tangling with the big rodent. But those tenacious quills are inspiring efforts to develop better medical devices, including less painful needles.
It turns out that no one had really picked apart why it's so hard to remove a porcupine quill. Barbs, sure. But the barbs not only stick like mad. They also make it much easier for the quill to pierce skin and flesh.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 8:06 am
Credit Courtesy of David Goudling/Nature Genetics.
Just as the name implies, Clostridium difficile is a difficult pathogen to beat. It causes a nasty infection in your gut, and it's often resistant to many antibiotics.
But C. difficile got even more troublesome about 10 years ago when a particularly virulent form of the bug cropped up in hospitals across the U.S and was no longer vulnerable to one of the most common classes of antibiotics.
It may have something to do with all those Brontosaurus burgers everyone's favorite modern stone-age family ate, but when you think of a giant dinosaur with a tiny head and long, swooping tail, the Brontosaurus is probably what you're seeing in your mind.
Well hold on: Scientifically speaking, there's no such thing as a Brontosaurus.
Even if you knew that, you may not know how the fictional dinosaur came to star in the prehistoric landscape of popular imagination for so long.
United Nations climate talks ran into overtime on Friday night, as diplomats pressed for whatever small advantage they could achieve.
As usual, the talks, which are being held in Doha, Qatar, involve closely interwoven issues. They include the usual wrangling over money, as well as early efforts in a multiyear process that is supposed to result in a new climate treaty.
Part of that involves finding a graceful way to phase out the Kyoto treaty, which has not proved to be a successful strategy for dealing with a warming planet.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 12:20 pm
By Asim Zia
Credit Karim Jaafar / AFP/Getty Images
The failure so far of a decades-long process to confront man-made climate change on a global level through a meaningful, effective and fair commitment to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions poses a serious dilemma for the survival of human civilization on this planet.
FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: We're ending this hour into the sea, Ira. Could you tell?
IRA FLATOW, HOST:
Ooh, yeah. I like it.
LICHTMAN: The noise you're hearing comes from a blue whale; that's an animal that can reach 90 feet in length, which is longer than a tennis court. Biologist...
JEREMY GOLDBOGEN: Hands down, these are largest animals of all time. And so one of the questions we're interested in is how do they sustain such an extreme body mass and why don't we see anything bigger than a blue whale?